Shelagh Brennan

Re-Setting the Table

Spring is upon us! Hibernation is over and Boston & Cambridge restaurants are waking up from a lengthy period of deep sleep and take-out. This is great news for restaurateurs, diners, tourists and landlords alike!
 

Here are some restaurants Boston.com highlighted as re-opening in March:

Burro Bar     -     Brookline & South End

City Bar     -     Back Bay

Coppersmiths     -     Southie

Dorchester Brewing Co.     -     Dorchester

Galway House     -     Jamaica Plain

Oak & Rowan     -     Fort Point
 


In a recent article, Terrence Doyle of bostoneater.com recommended these new eateries debuting this Spring:

Cicada Coffee Bar - Vietnamese coffee shop with zen garden.  Cambridge

Cloud & Spirits - Koren-inspired New American.  Cambridge

Mida - house made pasta.  South End & Newton

Wood Fired Love - wood-fired pizza.  Mission Hill

Punch Bowl - contemporary New England fare.  Brookline
 

In anticipation of Summer, I suggest:

Jaho Ice Creme - Japanese style soft serve.  Back Bay, Chinatown & South End

New City Microcreamery - unique flavors made with liquid nitrogen.  Cambridge 

Taiyaki - Japanese waffle treat.  Seaport

Honeycomb Creamery - ice creme tacos.  Cambridge

Milk Bar - signature cereal milk soft serve.  Cambridge

 

 

Why Title is So Important

Whether you are buying or selling, clear title is essential to the purchase or sale of real estate. “Dirty” or “bad” title can be fatal to a deal. Unlike the deed (a legal, physical document recorded in the Registry of Deeds), the title isn’t a piece of paper, but a concept that gives you ownership of the property. Without clear title, you generally cannot purchase, mortgage or sell it in the near future. Some common examples of title defects are improper title transfers, previously unknown heirs, state or local tax liens, estate complications, contractor/mechanic liens, boundary encroachments and liens from creditors, lenders and the IRS.

The GBREB's (Greater Boston Real Estate Board's) standard purchase and sale agreement form provides for what happens in a transaction if defective title is discovered. Clause 10 states the seller has 30 days to use reasonable efforts to clear the title. If the seller cannot deliver clear and marketable title within the 30 day period, the buyer may elect to withdraw from the contract without penalty.  

Sellers benefit by searching the title prior to listing their property for sale to ensure there are no title defects or other title issues. Buyers protect themselves by having their attorney search the title as soon as the purchase and sale agreement is signed, and by purchasing title insurance.

One of the key services that real estate attorneys provide is verifying that the title is good and marketable, thereby providing peace of mind to both buyer and seller. And the bank.

DISCLAIMER: This is provided for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. Please consult an attorney to discuss your specific questions regarding title and other legal matters.

 

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Home Security Systems for Boston Condos and Apartments

In these uncertain times, a home security system can enhance safety and peace of mind for urban residents. Since COVID-19, many city-dwellers are working from home and have groceries and packages delivered. A personalized security system enables residents to check what’s taking place in and around their property through surveillance cameras and smart phone communication, whether they are staying at home or monitoring from afar.

There are 2 general types of security systems for condos and apartments: wireless systems (DIY & unmonitored) and traditional (professionally monitored and hardwired).  Here are some pros and cons of each:
 

WIRELESS SYSTEMS

PROS:
1. Easy and fast install
2. Hooks up to smart phones for increased access and control
3. Portable security cameras and ability to see activity in your home from smart phone or tablet
4. Minimal equipment
5. Short contracts

CONS:
1. Electro-magnetic interference from other devices make these systems less reliable and easier to get hacked
2. Battery operated
3. You’re on call
 

HARDWIRED SYSTEMS

PROS: 
1. More reliable
2. Can be hidden in walls, ceilings and floors
3. Service company on call

CONS:
1. Installation done by professional
2. More expensive
3. Long-term contracts, less flexibility
4. May require approval of condo association or landlord


This NBC News article gives a nice overview and review of some home security system options.

 

 

 

Art in the House

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.
- Junot Diaz
 

Art enhances the home.

In today’s modern world, an environment adorned with art provides a quiet respite from the busyness of everyday life. Additionally, artwork has a huge impact on our moods and emotions and makes us feel calmer, happier, and inspired. It is cognitively proven that art in the home helps develop a child’s mental and social skills by boosting their ability to analyze and solve problems, improve motor skills and gain a sense of color. Studies show patients recovering from an operation have a faster recovery when surrounded by visual and audio artifacts (music) which uplift the human spirit and create positive energy. Art affects the fundamental sense of self and conveys a visual narrative about the life, childhood, family and interests of the owner.

From a design and value perspective, art is the best way to add personality, color and a focal point to a space. Interiors come alive with beautiful paintings, sculptures and photographs. The Penthouse at 89 Beacon Street, Beacon Hill is a great example of how a new construction condo with bare walls became a finished space with a beautiful balance, scale and texture. 

Galerie D’Orsay of Boston provided works of the masters including Picasso, Dali, Matisse  as well as contemporary artists Gove, Buist, Roblin and Zupan. The result is a gorgeous harmony of art, interior design and architecture which shows off the lifestyle of the home’s modern classic design, finishes and neighborhood.


Art turns a house into a home. It is an element of ourselves that we can project onto our walls and into our spaces.
- Ben Flyte, Galerie D’Orsay Boston 

 

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Back Bay Brownstone Return on Investment: A Case Study

In 1992, Shelagh Brennan of Cabot & Company and Paul Gleason of Fairfield Realty sold 4 unrenovated Back Bay buildings located at 47, 49, 51 & 53 Hereford Street for $1,020,000 (equal to $255,000 per building) to The Glynn Companies. The package included a parking area in the rear of the 4 buildings that accomodated 10 cars. That same year, the developer was granted an easement on the adjacent corner building at 45 Hereford Street to allow access to the parking lot. The developer later purchased the building at 45 Hereford Street in 1999 for $1,100,000 - now owning the entire block.


September 25, 1992 - Globe Staff Photo/Pam Berry
 

The properties were renovated and rented as apartments, and for the last 27 years experienced a robust rental income.


From Boston Globe, September 25, 1992
 

In 2017, The Glynn Companies began the renovation of 53 Hereford Street (building on the corner of Newbury Street) and added the parking area. Noted architect Guy Grassi designed 16,000 square feet of new construction office space. The building is completed and now known as 321 Newbury Street.

 

The present day estimated value of these properties is $37 million. Back Bay has outperformed the majority of neighborhoods in Boston and we do know owners that purchased their buildings in the Back Bay for $100,000-200,000 that are now worth $6-8 million (and more). The long-term return on investment for these buildings is huge, but it is also not uncommon for us to see some of these long-held buildings be under-rented or under-utilized. Depending on owners' goals, there may be opportunities to improve the property to boost returns and/or sell the property and invest the proceeds in properties that would generate higher annual returns, such as through a 1031 deferred tax exchange. This case study is a great example of how landlords can hold choice assets, renovate, develop and generate higher rental income, and hold for generations to come.

 

 

Boston Condo Market Outlook - Fourth Quarter 2019

Boston Home Prices Are Up  •  Number of Sales is Down  •  Inventory is Low

Curbed Boston reported transactions in the downtown Boston luxury condo market during the Summer months saw significant prices jumps and average sales prices were up nearly 23% year over year in the Spring.  Downtown areas include Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, South Boston, the Seaport, North End, West End, Midtown, Fenway and Charlestown.  The average sale price was $4,395,698 which represents an increase of 22% annually and 22% quarterly. 

The average price per square foot was $1,965, up 18.3% annually and 22.8% quarterly.
The median sales price jumped to $3,510,3000, up 21% annually and 33.7% quarterly.

Reasons for housing prices and rents rising are “fueled by a growth in jobs downtown, foreign investors looking for a safe place to put their money, and young people pooling their resources and doubling, tripling, or quadrupling up” according to Barry Bluestone, Dean of Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. 

Keep in mind the helpful factor of Interest Rates at a steady low hovering at 3.0% - 4%.

In summary, prices are up, inventory is down and the future looks expensive!

 

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Memorial Day Real Estate Trivia

General & President “Ike” Eisenhower Slept Here

It was September 21, 1953, seven weeks after an armistice ended the Korean War. Operation Moolah was in effect. Operation Moolah was a United States Air Force (USAF) effort during the Korean War to obtain (through defection from any Russian, Chinese or North Korean pilot) a fully capable Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter to deliver to America. The US had attempted to obtain a MiG for years because it was considered to be the best fighter aircraft of the 1950’s and Korean War. The performance of the MiG-15 outclassed and amazed its’ Western opponents.

That morning, North Korean fighter pilot No Kum Sok seized his opportunity to escape a dead end future in North Korea and find asylum in America. He climbed into the cockpit of a MiG-15 and flew it to Kimpo, an American air base near Seoul in South Korea.That same morning president Eisenhower flew out of Washington, D.C. to Boston before the reports about the MiG and the North Korean defector reached the White House.

Eisenhower stayed at the Annex to the Algonquin Club at 223 Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay, Boston and was called by the White House that day and given the news “We got the MiG.” Eisenhower dictated in a personal and confidential letter to his longtime advisor and confidante, Walter Bedell Smith, Undersecretary of State “I am sorry I was not in Washington today to discuss the MiG incident with the entire staff.” He was not sorry, however, that he was staying on America’s grandest avenue at 223 Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay, Boston.

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